The best paint colors for north facing rooms can help brighten and bring warmth to your living space. Create an inviting atmosphere with the right shades.
When I first graduated from college and lived with my sister, the biggest room in our tiny apartment was a north facing living room. We loved our sunny bedroom but spent more time on the couch or at the desk. It took trial and error – and lots of painting – to find the best paint color for a north facing room.
The best paint colors for north facing rooms are warm colors. For example, choose warm neutrals like off-white, cream, and beige; earthy terracotta, pink, and beige; jewel tones of teal, yellow, and forest green; or dramatic dark tones of plum, chocolate brown, and denim blue.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, rooms that face north are notoriously chilly, dark, and uninviting. This is because they get the least natural light, and the light they do get is cold and harsh.
Should you choose a paint color that will warm the room and maximize the light? Or do you embrace the coolness? Let’s look at how you decide on the best paint colors for north facing rooms.
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How to Choose the Best North Facing Room Paint Colors
I have to start this section by saying this: Choose any color you like. Choose your favorite shade of orange for the guest bedroom. Coat your study in a gorgeous purple. Drench the library in retro mustard. Your home should reflect your personality, after all.
However, if you’re uncertain of which way to go, use these questions to guide you:
- What time of the day do you plan to use the room? Will you see the color under natural or artificial light?
- What is the room’s function? Is it a guest bedroom or a kids’ playroom?
- What mood do you want to create? Cozy and inviting, or sleek and sophisticated?
- Do you have an existing color palette and design aesthetic?
Once you’ve answered these questions, choose one of these color options.
What are the Best Paint Colors for North Facing Rooms?
Although north facing rooms are often seen as being disadvantaged by the lack of sunlight, their steady, fresh light is actually a positive.
The quality of light means that paint colors will appear exactly as they are advertised, as there is little reflected light to alter the pigment. You can therefore choose a color and enjoy seeing it spread across your walls.
Most designers will approach north facing rooms as problematic spaces that need an infusion of warmth and brightness. Although painting a room white does make it appear lighter and airier, an icy, stark white can make a room even colder. Let’s look at the options for neutral paints without iciness.
The magic of white paint is that it reflects light around a room, whether natural or artificial. The best white paint colors for north facing rooms have a yellow or red undertone rather than a cool blue or green tone. Warm white is perfect for dull kitchens and bathrooms.
These are the warmest shades of white for a north-facing room:
- Pointing by Farrow & Ball
- Linen Wash by Little-Greene
- Not Totally White by Paper and Paints
- Alabaster by Sherwin-Williams
Elementary school art classes taught us that when you add yellow to white, you get a very light yellow or off white, which we call cream. I prefer cream to white in north facing rooms, as it adds depth and nuance and glows beautifully in even the tiniest bit of sunlight. Choose cream for vintage and heritage inspired rooms.
These are my favorite creamy paint colors:
- Linen White by Benjamin Moore
- New White by Farrow & Ball
- Heavy Cream by Martha Stewart
- Casa Blanca by Sherwin-Williams
Neutrals are always a safe bet, as they’re endlessly versatile. Instead of a bleak, sterile white, go for a natural yellow-toned or sandy beige.
The warm tones will filter the muted light and reflect it around the room for extra brightness. Include a mirror in your furnishings to further reflect light and create the illusion of sunshine.
Layer these pale neutrals to create a peaceful, elegant interior that works as well for a functional home office as it does for a quiet coastal grandma living room. Glowing wood floors and furniture prevent the palette from looking dull.
There are hundreds of light neutral paints, but these are the ones I turn to again and again:
- Pure Earth by Behr
- Balanced Beige by Sherwin-Williams
- Holmes Cream by Valspar
Warm Earth Tones
Choosing a color from the cooler end of the spectrum can result in a bleak, chilly north-facing room, so pale blues and grays (and colors with these undertones) are not recommended. Instead, go for a warm earthy tone to make the space inviting – and be completely on-trend.
Yes, terracotta is back in style. This year’s terracotta shades are sun baked earthy reds, oranges, and browns, ideal for light-starved north facing rooms.
These colors are slightly faded, like an old Tuscan villa, and therefore easier to live with than vivid reds. If you’re nervous about a red room, paint a feature wall in a beige room.
Choose one of these spicy shades to transform your chilly room into a Mediterranean villa:
- Terra Cotta Clay by Behr
- Charlotte’s Locks by Farrow & Ball
- Potter’s Clay by Benjamin Moore
- Redend Point by Sherwin-Williams
#5. Rose Clay
Consider painting your north facing room in the lush pink of rose clay. This dusty blush shade pairs beautifully with terracotta and softens the deeper reds. Choose the barest pink if you tend towards neutrals but want to dip your toe into color.
These putty-like shades are subtly dreamy and understated enough for a living or dining room but look equally gorgeous in a north facing kitchen or bathroom.
Any one of these lush pinks will transform your north-facing room:
- Raspberry Blush by Benjamin Moore
- Templeton Pink by Farrow & Ball
- Cuis De Nymph Emue by Edward Bulmer
- Masquerade by Little-Greene
Fans of gray will be disappointed to hear that their beloved neutral is not the best fit for north facing rooms. Gray is a little too blank for muted light. However, greige is the ideal alternative, with its warmth borrowed from earth tones.
Go for an almost tactile clay colored greige as a neutral anchor for a classic black and cream palette, or pair it with teal and mustard for mid-century modern accents.
It can be hard to distinguish between beige, cream, and greige, but these are the real deal:
- Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore
- Drop Cloth by Farrow & Ball
- Accessible Beige by Sherwin-Williams
- Rustic Greige by Dutch Boy
Rich Jewel Tones
While lighter, warm colors are perfect for a kid’s room or living room, north-facing rooms can look magical when painted in more intense colors. Choose darker hues if you want to create a cozy, intimate space. Bolder colors will add drama and style.
A bright, cheerful yellow is a great choice for a kid’s room or family kitchen, but if you want a moody, grown up space, go for golden and mustard shades. Indulge in an opulent Boho bedroom with colors borrowed from the spice market: cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, and ginger.
Layer up lush textiles like velvet, satin, and leather on warm wood furnishings.
Open the spice cabinet with one of these paint colors:
- French Quarter Gold by Benjamin Moore
- India Yellow by Farrow & Ball
- Curry by C2 Paint
- Beeswax by Domingue Finishes
Many designers avoid green tones in north-facing rooms because of their inherent coolness. Instead, teal has enough yellow undertone to dispel murkiness and glow with inviting coziness. This gorgeous color is striking and lends itself to decadent, vintage interiors.
But don’t think teal is old-fashioned – it’s been reborn in our refocusing on nature, ecology, and sustainability. Think of shadowy ivy and transfer that to your walls.
Look at these intense teal shades:
- Dragonfly by Behr
- Jack Pine by Benjamin Moore
- Vining Ivy by Glidden
- Weekend by Magnolia
#9. Forest Green
My sister adores all shades of green and find them invigorating, so she chose to paint my north-facing study this color. A bright yellow toned green refreshes the cool north light and inspires a garden-themed interior full of natural materials like wood, rattan, sisal, and stone. Add warmth with earthy rust and terracotta accents.
Choose one of these foliage green paint colors:
- Lafayette Green by Benjamin Moore
- Calke Green by Farrow & Ball
- Green 07 by Lick
- Country Squire by Sherwin-Williams
Dramatic Deep Tones
For the ultimate cocooning effect, dramatic darker colors should be your go-to. Embrace the lack of sunlight in your north facing room and transform it into a snug, cozy space by drenching the entire room in an opulent shade.
These gorgeous, deep colors absorb chilly shadows and are perfect for an intimate bedroom setting or a striking living room.
Edible shades of purple, like plum, have fiery red undertones, making them ideal for north facing rooms. Choose this unusual purple shade to create coziness in a chilly living room.
This ripe pigment will add glow and energy to a dark, shaded study in summer. Pair plum with blush pinks and forest greens for retro charm.
Pluck one of these rich plum paints:
- Tyrian Plum by Annie Sloan
- Floriography by Dunn-Edwards
- Brinjal by Farrow & Ball
- Expressive Plum by Sherwin-Williams
Cooler blues aren’t ideal for north facing rooms, but putty-like gray-blue loves muted light. Use denim blue to anchor a tranquil, comfortable space to relax and rest.
This color is perfect for a quiet library or listening room and lends itself to traditional and vintage looks. Add interesting light fittings to enjoy the room by night.
Wrap your north-facing room in one of these paint colors:
- Midnight Teal by Dulux Heritage
- Railings by Farrow & Ball
- Vining Ivy by PPG
- Denim by Sherwin-Williams
#12. Chocolate Brown
Brown is the earthiest of earth tones, ranging from a rusty tan to the deepest chocolate. For such a versatile color, I don’t think brown is used enough in our interiors.
Brown is grounding and cozy, pairing with white, cream, and earth tones. Look out for red, orange, and pink-toned browns and caramels for a north facing room.
Here are some moody browns to warm up a north facing room:
- Toffee Crunch by Behr
- Beachcomber by Benjamin Moore
- Tiramisu by C2 Paints
- London Clay by Farrow & Ball
Final Thoughts on What Color to Paint a North Facing Room
North facing rooms need not become the storeroom or dumping space of the house. By choosing a warm, inviting paint color, you can transform even the dullest, bleakest room into a welcoming bedroom, cozy study, or intimate bedroom.